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Officially, 2019’s National Forklift Safety Day is Tuesday, June 11th. Unofficially, forklift manufacturers, dealers, and even drivers will focus on forklift safety throughout the entire month.
National Forklift Safety Day is relatively new. It started only six years ago when the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) designated one day of the year for educating lawmakers, policymakers, customers, and other forklift industry insiders on the importance of the safe operation of forklifts and other materials handling vehicles.
This year, the official celebration will take place in Washington, D.C., where ITA officials will meet with Congress to talk about new regulations designed to promote forklift safety. But everybody involved with these ubiquitous industrial vehicles are encouraged to plan their own events throughout the month of June to enhance awareness of safe forklift practices in the workplace.
Focus on Forklift Safety
In previous years, a wide variety of events have been held outside of the official celebration that promoted forklift safety in the workplace. These have included photo contests, special training, month-long educational campaigns, and even forklift rodeos.
Forklift makers also got into the action. Toyota Forklifts dealers throughout North America offered no-cost forklift safety consultations for their customers, offering advice on everything from how to increase pedestrian awareness of forklifts in docks and warehouses to the importance of continuing education and training for forklift operators throughout the year.
Forklift Safety Statistics
Increasing awareness of forklift safety — both on National Forklift Safety Day and throughout the entire year — can help create a culture of safety in the workplace. When people are focused on improving workplace safety it can have a direct bearing on both the number and severity of workplace accidents.
According to the National Safety Council, approximately 70 percent of all industrial accidents are caused by operator error. But when forklift operators and other materials handling professionals receive direct, effective training on how to perform their jobs safely, accident rates can be reduced by as much as 25 to 30 percent.
In fact, a recent study conducted by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that after comprehensive forklift operator safety training was conducted, the average workplace saw a 61 percent improvement in operator performance scores.
Forklift Training Essentials
One of the key elements of National Forklift Safety Day every year is encouraging additional forklift driver training. There’s no such thing as too much safety training because the more aware operators are of the potential dangers in the workplace, the more likely they are to avoid them.
While forklift training is mandatory in all US workplaces that use the vehicles, many employers do only the bare minimum to meet OSHA workplace standards. Yet there is a clear connection between continual training and a reduction in workplace accidents.
The ITA, forklift manufacturers, and others involved in National Forklift Safety Day encourage business owners to engage in continual, focused forklift training for operators, including refreshing knowledge and enhancing skills to make every driver safer.
Equipment Inspections and Maintenance
A forklift that is worn, broken, or in poor repair is unsafe. Most forklift owners push their vehicles to their limits. But failing to take the time to repair and maintain your lift truck regularly and properly will only increase the risk of an accident or injury.
Regular inspections should be conducted to continually assess the condition of the vehicle. Drivers need to inspect the key parts of their forklifts — including the mast, tires, battery or power supply, and forks — at least daily if not before and after every shift. This is especially important for vehicles that are being used for multiple work shifts day or even around the clock.
Properly maintaining forklifts means more than simply changing out fuel canisters or recharging batteries. Tires need to be properly filled, engines need to be inspected and maintained, and the hydraulic system needs to be greased and maintained according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Creating a maintenance schedule is easy. Most forklift makers will include recommended maintenance instructions as part of their purchase or lease package. If not, a simple search of the forklift’s online Owner’s Manual should provide everything that is needed to create a safe and effective maintenance plan for every vehicle in your fleet.
Year-Round Focus on Safety
National Forklift Safety Day only comes once per year. But the potential dangers of forklift-related accidents or injuries exist every day and in every workplace.
Taking a proactive approach by continually training and retraining drivers, properly maintaining forklifts according to their manufacturer’s recommendations, and promoting a culture of safety in the workplace can benefit any workplace by reducing costly accidents and keeping workers safe.